Do I Really Need to Wear a Retainer?

We know our patients’ favorite day is the day their braces come off. It’s a day to celebrate – after all, you’ve put in a lot of work and it’s time to see how it has all paid off. But, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean it’s the end of your orthodontic journey.

To ensure your smile stays put and is as beautiful as the day we remove your braces, it’s important to wear your retainer exactly as Dr. Hong tells you. So, why are retainers so important?

  1. Retainers stabilize your bite. During your time in braces, your teeth have been moving slowly through bone and soft tissue. Your periodontal ligament, the one that holds the teeth in place, is a bit elastic. So for it to become used to where the teeth are now located, you have to allow the bone to solidify and the soft tissues to adapt to the changes we’ve made in your smile.
  2. Retainers prevent relapse. As we just mentioned, the soft tissues and bone need time to adjust. The retainer works to hold the teeth in their new locations while all of these adjustments are made. Without a retainer, your teeth will want to go right back to their old locations.

At Hong Orthodontics, we recommend that patients wear their retainers around the clock for the first 12 months after having their braces removed. You will remove your retainer to eat and care for your smile. After the first year, we recommend wearing your retainer every night. You can continue to wear your retainer nightly to ensure your teeth remain as straight as the day we removed your braces.

It’s important to not only wear your retainer but to take proper care of it, as well. Dr. hong recommends:

  • Rinse your retainer thoroughly with warm water every time you remove it. This will help rinse away any buildup that has had time to accumulate while it was in your mouth.
  • Brush your retainer using a toothbrush and warm water. Avoid using toothpaste as this can be too abrasive and cause damage to the surface of your retainer.
  • Keep your retainer away from heat. That means never leave it in a hot car, or place it in hot or boiling water. It can melt!
  • Keep your retainer away from pets. We’ve had more than one patient call us to tell us their dog ate their retainer (it happens!).
  • Always keep your retainer in its case when it isn’t in your mouth. Never wrap it in a napkin when eating – this can make it too easy to throw away accidentally.
  • Soak your retainer to remove buildup. All it takes is 10-15 minutes daily to clean it.
  • Brush your teeth often. Just like when in braces, it can be helpful to brush your teeth before putting your retainer back in to ensure your smile stays healthy.
  • Replace your retainer as needed. Even the best retainer will wear out over time, so to ensure your smile stays put, be sure you replace your retainer when needed.

We want your smile to stay as beautifully straight as the day your braces were removed, so please remember to wear your retainer and take proper care of it. If you ever have questions, concerns, or need a replacement, don’t hesitate to call our office.